The Watch

Palazzo Doria Pamphili

Valmontone, Lazio, Italy

1998 World Monuments Watch

Fire, air, water, earth – the four ancient elements – are represented in a cycle of endangered frescoes in the Palazzo Doria Pamphili that are among the most important examples outside Rome of the stylistic shift from the high to the late Roman baroque. A team of painters that included Francesco Cozza, Giacomo Cortese, Giambattista Tassi, and Mattia Preti were commissioned in the late 1650s to decorate ceilings in Prince Camillo Pamphili's palace. Work on the Allegory of Air had been started by Pier Francesco Mola, but during a bitter disagreement between artist and patron the Prince destroyed the nearly completed frescoes (minor works by Mola elsewhere in the palace survive) and hired the new artists. Even before substantial Allied bombing of the palace during World War II, the frescoes had been deteriorating. Preti's frescoes representing air and Cozza's depicting fire have been preserved, though Cortese's water and Tassi's earth series are in precarious condition. Their plaster bases are unstable and subject to imminent collapse unless consolidation work begins immediately.

Since the Watch

Following the 1998 Watch the most important frescoes in three rooms were consolidated and the threat of plaster collapse was brought under control. January 2011

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